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The history of Greece is interwoven with the history of the Balkans, an area in which Greece has played a major role down through the centuries.
Historically, the Balkans has been a volatile region, and the latest – and hopefully the last – conflicts in the region occurred at the turn of the 21st century, in the wake of the break-up of Yugoslavia.
The current situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the issues of Kosovo and the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia all result from the break-up of Yugoslavia.
As a longstanding member of the EU, NATO and other Euroatlantic institutions, Greece pursues the consolidation of stability, security and development in the region through the establishment of good neighbourly relations and respect for the basic principles of international law and order – as they are set down in the UN Charter – as well as through the full incorporation of all the Balkan countries into the European and Euroatlantic institutions.
Within this framework, Greece’s regional policy for the Balkans revolves around the following axes:
- Promotion of the European perspective of the Western Balkans via Greece’s new Agenda 2014. This initiative – a follow-up to the Thessaloniki Agenda – is aimed at revitalizing the Western Balkans’ European perspective, which lost impetus due not only to enlargement fatigue in the EU itself, but also to waning enthusiasm in the countries of the Western Balkans; waning enthusiasm caused by the absence of a specific time horizon – which would provide specific incentives – and, in some cases, by opportunism and political expediency in domestic affairs.
- Promotion – within the framework of Agenda 2014 – of a new Greek initiative for regional cooperation in the Western Balkans based on a European Regional Strategy for the Western Balkans (along the lines of the “Danube Strategy”). This initiative would serve to accelerate the accession processes of current and future candidate countries in the region, helping them to accede at the soonest possible time.
- Regional development through optimum use of existing regional platforms as well as EU mechanisms. Greece contributes to regional growth via HiPERB, the Regional Cooperation Council and various bi- and tri-lateral cooperation platforms that it promotes with partners and states in the region.
- A strengthened political role for the South Eastern European Cooperation Process (SEECP), which would enable the countries of the region to take their share of responsibility in confronting regional challenges. The politically strengthened SEECP will serve as an antechamber where countries of the region can make accession preparations on their course towards the European Union.